Lately I’ve been seeing more and more of a certain “insult”, which is so bizarre I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around it. That insult is “cuck”, and seems to be used exclusively by the MRA/PUA-types.
What makes an insult hurtful? Obviously it’s not the sound of the letters. It must come with emotional pre-loaded into the word due to social context. I noted previously that slurs like “nigger” or “cunt” have a history of violence and state-sanctioned terror associated with them, which is why they are particularly harmful. But even mild insults like “stupid” or “ugly” are attempts to hurt someone, by making others who hear the insult think less of the target. Someone who is stupid makes a poor ally. Someone who is ugly makes a poor mate. Such allegations, if taken seriously, could damage one’s future prospects.
So how does the term “cuck” hurt someone?
Cuck is short for cuckold. Which, in today’s common usage, means a man whose Significant Other has sexually cheated on him. I find it very counter-intuitive that this would be a slur against the man. (For simplicity, I will refer to the SO as the “wife” from now on, though I don’t think the couple necessarily has to be married. They do have to be a male/female couple though, as we’ll see later).
What does it say about a person if their partner has cheated on them? Well, generally, that their relationship is experiencing extreme difficulty, to the point of collapse. This could be caused by all sorts of factors. Maybe there’s been a recent death in the family. Or a financial stressor is making life difficult. Perhaps the couple has been together for so long that they’ve grown in different directions, and no longer have much in common, but they have unwisely chosen to stay together anyway due to social pressures and are unhappy about it. Maybe one of them has developed a substance addiction which the other one is unhappy with. Or has spent so much time pursuing a career that the partner has been neglected for a long time, and the two of them don’t have strong enough communications skills/protocols to deal with this. There is a near-endless list of possible factors, and often more than one is in play anyway. This makes the insult “cuck” reduce to “your life is difficult in some way, and you aren’t good at dealing with it as a couple!” which… is really too vague to be a good insult. Plus it doesn’t really make the target look bad to outside observers, just unfortunate.
OR it could imply that a couple has differing levels of sexual desire and/or incompatible sexual tastes. AND, in addition, they were bad at discovering this (or unwisely ignored it) before they made a very long-term commitment, AND they were too conformist to adopt an open marriage, AND they forced themselves to stay in the marriage rather than moving on for far too long. This does, indeed, show bad judgement! However, I don’t think this is what the insult is angling for. If you want to insult someone’s judgement-making-skills, the old-school term “idiot” does so very well. And “cuck” is very sexually-specific, which is just weird. Why focus so much on bad judgement in sexual terms, rather than just bad judgement in general? The former is less likely to be a liability in an ally.
It’s a very mystifying insult, until you look at the people who are using it. Then much is revealed.
The people who use this term are almost always from the Men’s Rights Activist / Pick-up Artist / Gamer Gate section of society. While not all these people are sexist, much of the ideology they hail from is. If you read through their screeds, you pick up a crazed view of human sexuality. Men are divided into two sets – Alphas, who are intrinsically attractive to women, and Betas, who are intrinsically unattractive, but can buy sex with promises of support (financial, emotional, or other). (there is a third class, the Gammas, who aren’t worth talking about because they serve the same role as the Untouchables in any caste system). Women are all of a single type – they want Alpha dick for pleasure, and they want Beta support for child-raising. Women’s winning strategy is to marry a Beta as a provider, give him as little sex as possible (since it’s so unpleasurable), and whenever possible to get pleasurable sex by cheating with an Alpha.
(For reference, the sexual strategy proposed by these groups is to either A) pose as an Alpha, to trick women into sleeping with you, or B) impose extreme personal controls on women so they are unable to cheat)
Thus the power of the word “cuck” as an insult is made clear. It says, foremost, that the man is not an Alpha. (That in itself is not a big deal, because these groups all admit that not being an Alpha isn’t that big a deal, very very few people are, and certainly no one that needs to come to their website to read this advice.) Far more importantly – it says that the target of the insult has failed in his duty as a Beta to police his wife’s life. He has allowed her to get out of hand, running around and sleeping with an Alpha, while he continues to provide her with support. Like a chump. Like a pussy-whipped loser. Like a cuck.
The world view that makes this word an insult is appallingly toxic. It makes women something between property and whore. It makes men helpless economic slaves. They are controlled by their dicks, and can only wrest back this control by controlling the dick-pleasuring-object. No wonder these men hate women! They must live in fear their whole lives. And being called a “cuck” is an attempt channel that fear into a hurtful word. It is a reminder that one is powerless, and intrinsically undesirable.
I think that’s why these people have latched onto this word. It actually means something to them. But to anyone who isn’t drowning in a sea of sexism, it’s just bizarre. I used to think seeing that insult was just a weird, harmless quirk. It was like being called a honkey. Um… OK? But now I know better. Now, when I see someone use the insult “cuck”, I feel sorry for them. It’s one of those weird insults that makes the user look pitiful to onlookers, rather than the target. I guess that’s a kind of poetic justice all its own.
[edit: I suppose I’m also a bit disgusted, by the implication that the man was too lax (and possibly not violent enough) in policing the woman]
I dig that it is hetero normative and mysoginistic. I think though it is less mysoginistic and ethnocentric than the old insults. At least in the cuc senarío the woman is getting hers. Consider the totality of the old insults. Faggot, bittch, retard. All those are globally more violent and insulting.
Yeah. This one is just weird, to an outsider. But it must mean a lot to them. Which is why I think it makes the person using it look so pathetic.
I didn’t see you mention babies.
My understanding of cuck as an insult mostly derives from the fact that you’re being completely tricked into raising a child that you mistakenly think is yours.
From wikipedia: A cuckold is the husband of an adulterous wife. In evolutionary biology, the term is also applied to males who are unwittingly investing parental effort in offspring that are not genetically their own.
I think that greater than 1% of children have a dad that isn’t aware that he not biologically the father.
This suggests 1-3%
I agree with you on the cheating partner aspect as being a weaker insult but the raising a child that is not yours seems like a pretty powerful insult to me.
In its traditional form, yeah, the word meant that. But in its current form it obviously doesn’t, because it’s used without regard for whether or not the man in question even *has* children. When the childless are being called cucks, it’s pretty clear the term is being used in a way that doesn’t have anything to do with paternity.
I assume this is in large part because, in the modern age, raising a child that isn’t genetically yours is not seen as a bad thing. If anything, it’s commendable. Lots of people adopt, and we expect step-parents to treat their step-children approximately equally as they treat their natural children. It goes against modern sensibilities to treat children as “vehicles I use to force my genes into the next generation (and thus those who can’t do that are a waste of my resources)” rather than “people, who I love.” Trying to insult someone for loving a child, even if it’s not genetically related to them, is even crazier than insulting them for being in a bad relationship!
I would argue that the word still carries its traditional connotation regardless of the man having a child or not.
It’s implying that they are the sort of man who could be deceived by his mate.
It’s not about raising and loving a child that’s not yours. I agree that is seen as commendable.
It’s about being tricked into thinking that a child is yours when it’s not and then devoting time and resources based on a lie.
> It’s about being tricked into thinking that a child is yours when it’s not and then devoting time and resources based on a lie.
So, again, it’s an insult that assumes the nature of male-female relationships is that men buy women’s affection with resources, and women begrudgingly accept this bribe, while secretly having sex with desirable alphas when possible. (“tricking” the men by taking their resources, but using them to raise the alpha’s children)
It’s not an insult that means anything to people who have healthy relationships with their sex partners. It just shows the insulter to be a sad, damaged person. :(
Yes I agree that insults are usually less effective when then don’t accurately depict the target:
-Calling someone an idiot when they’re in MENSA.
-Calling someone fat when they’re very skinny.
-Calling someone a cuck when they’re in a healthy relationship.
>So, again, it’s an insult that assumes the nature of male-female relationships is that men buy women’s affection with resources, and women begrudgingly accept this bribe, while secretly having sex with desirable alphas when possible. (“tricking” the men by taking their resources, but using them to raise the alpha’s children)
Yes it correctly assumes that SOME relationships are exactly like this, not every single one.
Thanks for explaining this. I had no idea. The growing prevalence of seeing this word show up on reddit recently has made me avoid that site.